The economic malaise hasn't slowed down the growth of the radio frequency identification (RFID) market. According to a mid-year analysis conducted by IDTechEx, roughly 2.3 billion RFID tags will be sold in 2010, and that doesn't even include the tags that retail giant Wal-Mart Stores plans to insert into jeans and underwear in a pilot test. That total is up from the 1.9 billion tags purchased in 2009, based on IDTechEx's estimates.
By the end of 2010 the value of the entire RFID market will be $5.63 billion, up from $5.03 billion in 2009. This includes tags, readers and software/services for RFID cards, labels, fobs and all other form factors.
Most of the growth in this period is due to an increase in use of passive UHF tags, which are typically used for asset tracking in closed-loop systems. Such applications typically use tens of thousands of tags and more, and major retailers such as Walmart and Marks & Spencer are driving the adoption of RFID for apparel tagging.
The biggest spenders, however, are government agencies, which are involved in large-scale RFID initiatives such as animal tagging, transit ticketing and people identification, where the ROI is typically measured in greater efficiency and improved safety.
In 2010, nearly half (43%) of all RFID tags will be sold and used in North America, but this trend will soon be changing, as IDTechEx notes that the Chinese government is a strong advocate for RFID, and the country already has ordered 1 billion national identification cards for adults, which would be the single largest RFID order (by value) to date.